“Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in” (Romans 11:19).
In our last visit we saw in Romans chapter 11 that when the Israelites rejected the Gospel of grace God opened the door for Gentiles to receive the Gospel of grace. He describes this marvelous opportunity by using the illustration of olive trees.
When God chose Israel as a nation to be His people He as it were planted an olive tree. When Israelites personally rejected God’s provision of the Gospel of grace Paul explained, like branches they were broken off from the tree. When Gentiles receive the Gospel of grace they are like wild olive shoots that God grafts into the good olive tree so that they “now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root” (verse 17).
He said in verse 16, “if the root is holy, so are the branches.” Gentile believers are truly blessed. But Paul warns them not to be presumptuous. In verses 18-21 he says, “Do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”
He continues this line of reasoning in verse 22 by pointing out that this picture presents both the kindness and sternness of God. God is stern to those who through rebellion and disbelief fall away. He is kind to those who believe and follow through in obedience.
We should never look down on others, and take care not to presume upon God’s kindness toward us.